F K Gardner and Sons Pty Ltd (Townsville) has been awarded the construction tender for the Townsville Courthouse Domestic and Family Violence upgrade project.
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Yvette D’Ath, Member for Townsville Scott Stewart and the North Queensland Women’s Legal Service (NQWLS) have welcomed the important milestone in the upgrade of the courthouse.
“I am pleased this upgrade will do more than improve the general court precinct, it will also provide state-of-the-art facilities for the Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) area,” Mr Stewart said.
“The upgrade is great news for Townsville’s construction industry. It is expected to support 12 full-time equivalent jobs this financial year and another 16.5 in 2019-20.
“As is the case with all Palaszczuk Government construction work in regional areas, there is a charter of local content built into the tender to encourage the use of local businesses and sub-contractors wherever possible.”
Mrs D’Ath said site works on the project, which has been allocated a budget of $9 million by the Palaszczuk Government, are expected to begin within a month.
“We promised we would back the establishment of the Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court with significant funding to provide the most suitable amenities possible, and everything continues to progress as planned,” she said.
“The works are expected to be completed by November 2019.”
The scope of works includes a new DFV courtroom, secure DFV area, secure entrance and exit for DFV clients, and new interview and conference rooms.
The Magistrates Court registry will be refurbished and there will be new external stairs and a shared entrance to both the Supreme Court and District Court building and the Magistrates Court building.
Other improvements include a refurbished public waiting area, upgraded electronic security, modern audio-visual and videoconferencing facilities, and upgraded building services.
NQWLS Director Anne Lewis said the service welcomed the upgrade to the DFV Court facilities.
“They will provide increased and necessary safety for women accessing the court,” Ms Lewis said.
“The increased security measures will make a big difference, by reducing stress and anxiety levels experienced by vulnerable women coming before the court.
“Our duty lawyers will now have space to provide legal advice to clients in a more confidential setting and audio-visual and video-conferencing facilities will help provide better access to justice for victims of domestic violence in some circumstances.
“We applaud the Palaszczuk Government for continuing to deliver on the recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever report.”
Mrs D’Ath praised the hard work and commitment of the NQWLS in Townsville.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring access to justice for Queenslanders, which is why an additional $4.796 million of funding was allocated to Community Legal Centres statewide,” she said.
“This includes funding for the NQWLS, which provides vital support for women affected by domestic and family violence in Townsville.
“The Townsville courthouse upgrade is part of a program of investing in court infrastructure right across the state.
“Over five years, we are also investing $31.6 million to expand and upgrade
audio-visual equipment across Queensland courthouses, further improving court efficiency, and giving greater flexibility to vulnerable or remote witnesses.”